Alan D. Strange
Ordained Servant: December 2021
Also in this issue
by John W. Mallin III
by Danny E. Olinger
by Meredith G. Kline
by Robert Letham by Bryan D. Estelle by T. David Gordon by John Donne (1572–1631)
by Robert Letham
by Bryan D. Estelle
by T. David Gordon
by John Donne (1572–1631)
1. When a call is issued to a minister or licentiate it shall be regarded as a request by the calling body for his installation. When the person called has declared his willingness to accept the call this shall be regarded as his request to be installed; in the case of a licentiate it shall be regarded as a request first to be ordained.
Comment: The issuance of a call on the part of the body issuing it (a congregation, presbytery, or agency of the church) serves as a request to the presbytery that the one receiving it be installed; his declared willingness to accept such a call constitutes his request to the presbytery to be installed. If the one receiving such a call is a licentiate, his stated desire to accept that call is to be taken as a request that he be first ordained to gospel ministry and then installed into the position to which the call pertains.
2. A licentiate may be ordained as a minister of the Word when he has given sufficient evidence that he has the ministerial gifts required for instruction and rule in Christ's church in accordance with the provisions of Chapter XXI, Section 1, and has been called to a ministerial service approved by the presbytery. A minister may be received from another denomination when he has given sufficient evidence that he has the ministerial gifts required for instruction and rule in Christ's church in accordance with the provisions of Section 6 of this chapter.
Comment: A licentiate, one may recall from the commentary on FG 21, is one who has given sufficient evidence of the graces and gifts requisite for gospel ministry, and the presbytery has consequently licensed him. Licensure serves, on the part of the presbytery, as a certification that this candidate has such graces and gifts. The licentiate becomes a probationer, undergoing a trial period to determine whether God’s people and further examination by the presbytery will discover that the candidate is indeed fit to receive a call and be ordained to ministerial service. When sufficient evidence is present and a successful probation has been concluded (typically no less than six months), a licentiate may be ordained as a minster of the Word when he has received a call to such ministerial service that is approved by the presbytery. Similarly, a minister may be received from another denomination when he has proven himself in terms of section 6 of this chapter, below.
3. That the most effectual measures may be taken to guard against the admission of unqualified men into the sacred office the presbytery shall ordain a licentiate, or receive a minister from another denomination, if he has satisfactorily completed the academic requirements set forth in Chapter XXI, Section 3, and an adequate course of study in a theological seminary equivalent to that required for a regular three-year theological degree.
Ordination of a licentiate, or reception of a minister from another denomination, without the full requirements specified above and in Section 6, below, may be granted as an exception to the above rule only if the presbytery, after reporting the whole matter to the general assembly and weighing such advice as it may offer, shall judge, by a three-fourths vote of the members present, that such exception is warranted by the qualifications of the candidate.
If the presbytery is satisfied as to the ministerial qualifications of the candidate but finds that he lacks competency in the Hebrew and Greek languages, or one of them, it may judge by a three-fourths vote of the members present to waive these requirements without referring this question to the general assembly for advice. Such action shall be taken only when the applicant has given affirmative answer to the following question:
Do you agree that you will make a continuing endeavor, under the direction of the presbytery, to attain competency in those languages until the presbytery is satisfied?
Comment: As noted earlier, in the comment on FG 21.3 and elsewhere, Presbyterians are committed to an educated clergy. It is important that licentiates in the OPC or ministers from other denominations possess and be able to demonstrate adequate learning, which ordinarily includes the completion both of an undergraduate degree at a college or university and a divinity degree at a theological seminary. If the candidate has not achieved such academic attainments, he must be able to compensate for such, either through complementary academic attainments or, in rare cases, rigorous proven self-study. In any case, one must be able to pass comprehensive examinations for ordination, whether prepared for such by institutional preparation or again, rarely, in exceptional cases, one’s own course(s) of study.
These days one often hears that character qualities, not intellectual ones, predominate in the list of necessary attributes for would-be officers, especially ministers and ruling elders. A survey of 1 Timothy 3:1–13 and parallels confirms that predominance. That academic training as such is not explicitly addressed in the pastoral epistles—though the human author, Paul, was himself highly academically trained—does not mean that it is neither needed nor desirable.
While the requirement that an overseer/bishop (episkopos) be “apt to teach” has an academic component to it, the weight of the apostle’s emphasis admittedly remains focused on graces rather than gifts. Admitting that, though, is not to make light of the need for ministers to have solid academic preparation for the gospel ministry. There are so many things in the present day necessary for ministry, not only the biblical languages, which the apostles knew and spoke, but also how to deal with all that has transpired in modern times (e.g., in the works of Marx, Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud, Foucault, Derrida, etc.) as that impacts the faith, including currents. Ministers should be able in some measure both to preach the gospel and defend the faith against its detractors. Such preparation involves, in no small measure, rigorous academic study and application.
Having said that, the necessary graces that must mark a candidate for ministerial office are indispensable to the office. It is easier, in one respect, for a man to be highly gifted and quite dedicated in intellectual preparation for office than it is for him to be spiritually disciplined and, frankly, pious. To be a man of real prayer and godliness, a man who honestly sees himself in his native sin and misery and earnestly desires more than anything to be holy and a vessel fit for the master’s use, is always paramount. Paul’s list in 1 Timothy 3 is not exhaustive but suggestive of the kind of godliness that must mark a man who would be a minister of the gospel. The challenge to presbyteries here is quite real: while it is hard work to prepare properly for the ministry academically and intellectually, success in such is more readily ascertained by the presbytery as an examining body than is assessing true humility and piety in the candidates. That often takes some time truly to manifest itself, and presbyteries must do the best that they can in the limited time of engagement that they enjoy in the process of licensure and ordination. However, written and oral testimonials required by FG 23.6 may play an important part in the presbyery’s assessment of the godliness of a candidate.
The way that Presbyterians have sought to assure a ministerium that is academically gifted (graces usually being ascertained from personal observation and field experience assessment) is to require candidates to attend schools particularly equipped to aid in academic preparation for ministry, namely, theological seminaries. Completion of a three-year program (or its equivalent) in such is commonly where a man both obtains the tools that he needs for ministry and sharpens his use of them. The seminary, of course, gives neither gifts nor graces but can serve to help a man develop that which God has given him. As noted earlier, if a man lacks such theological training, he must nonetheless possess the sorts of gifts and have skill in the use of them with which theological training in a seminary is calculated to furnish him.
In any case, no presbytery can ever dispense with ascertaining that a man has the requisite gifts and graces for ministry. If he has otherwise developed the necessary gifts and graces, elsewhere than study in a theological seminary, a presbytery may seek an exception to the rule requiring seminary education for ministers. Ordination of a licentiate or reception of a minister from another denomination without the full requirements specified in the first paragraph of this section may be granted as an exception only if the presbytery reports the matter to the GA and weighs such advice as it may offer and then determines, by a three-fourths vote of members present, that such exception is warranted by the qualifications otherwise evident with respect to the candidate.
If the presbytery has found that a candidate possesses the necessary ministerial qualification but lacks competency in the biblical languages, it need not take such to the GA. The presbytery can waive the language requirement, by a three-fourths vote of the members present, but only after ascertaining that the candidate is willing to make a continuing effort to satisfy the presbytery that he has attained competency in both the Hebrew and Greek languages. The candidate, in fact, must affirmatively pledge that he will endeavor to do so.
4. When a licentiate indicates his willingness to accept a call, the presbytery shall, at the earliest time convenient to both the presbytery and the licentiate, examine him as to his qualifications for the sacred office, with a view to his ordination.
Comment: In Presbyterianism, one is never ordained without a call to a specific office: pastor, teacher, or evangelist. It is only when someone deemed qualified to be called to office, which is what licensure (and being a licentiate) is, receives a call from a local congregation, presbytery, or other authorized denominational agency that the process of ordination begins. This process, which involves various examinations, including an examination on the floor of presbytery in theology, ensues only upon the reception of a call by a licentiate and his expressed willingness to accept such a call. Licentiates have asked presbyteries from time to time to begin the examination process for ordination in anticipation of a call, but the process never begins until the reception of said call. His receiving a call does mean that the presbytery is to begin the process of examination at the earliest convenience of both parties with his stated intention to accept the call.
5. If a licentiate is called to ministerial service within the Church, and the presbytery has authorized his ordination, he shall be ordained and installed at an occasion arranged for the purpose. If he is called to ministerial service under auspices other than those of this Church and indicates that he desires to accept the call, the presbytery, if it approves of the call and authorizes his ordination, shall ordain him at a time suitable to the parties concerned.
Comment: When a licentiate, being called to ministerial service within the church by some duly authorized body (local congregation, presbytery, or other authorized agency), has been approved and authorized by the presbytery for ordination, he shall be ordained to the gospel ministry and installed into that particular call. It should be noted that ordination is to the gospel ministry generally (wherever the Lord shall call one to service throughout the course of his life) and installation is to that particular call specifically, which may change multiple times in a man’s lifetime of service in the ministry.
The second sentence indicates situations in which a man seeks ministerial service outside the church. If the call to such ministerial service is from a church outside the bounds of the OPC, and the man desires to accept said call, the presbytery must determine whether it approves of such a call. If it does, the presbytery authorizes his ordination and proceeds to ordination at a mutually agreeable time. In some cases, a call is not in view (as in an appointment to teach in a theological seminary, which does not issue calls since it is not the church), and any call to service in such must come from within the church (from a presbytery or local session, to serve as a teacher in that institution).
6. Trials for ordination shall consist of the following: (1) the evaluation of written and oral testimonials as to the candidate's satisfactory exercise of the gifts for the gospel ministry; (2) an examination as to the candidate's Christian faith and life; as to his knowledge of the Bible, theology, apologetics, ecclesiastical history, the Greek and Hebrew languages, and such other branches of learning as to the presbytery may appear requisite; and as to his knowledge of the confession, government, discipline, and worship of the Church; this examination may include such written discourses, founded on the Word of God, as shall seem proper to the presbytery. If the examination is referred to a committee an examination at least in theology shall also be held before the presbytery; if one-fourth of the presbyters present at the meeting are dissatisfied with the examination in theology, the candidate shall be required to continue the examination at a future meeting of the presbytery.
Comment: Even as a man undergoes various trials before being licensed to preach the gospel, once he receives a call to ministerial service, he, as a licentiate, undergoes various trials for ordination. These trials consist mainly of two parts: the presbytery receiving and assessing various testimonials concerning the candidate and further examinations, extending those that he received when a candidate for licensure. With respect to testimonials, it is customary for a candidate to request various parties familiar with his preparation for ordination and recipients of his ministry to submit attestations to the presbytery on his behalf. Such testimonials affirm that the candidate has gifts suitable for gospel ministry and that he has, in a satisfactory and beneficial way, exercised said gifts among them.
Further examinations also gauge the suitability of the candidate for gospel ministry. He is examined in faith and life with a view to ascertaining his Christian character, commitment, service, and the like. He is examined as to his overall, comprehensive knowledge of the Bible (often referred to as an “English Bible Exam,” meaning the Bible in one’s own language as opposed to an exam in the original languages of the Bible). He is also examined in all the loci of systematic theology, including apologetics (for which licentiates are not examined), church history, and the original biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew). The presbytery, though it is not customary among us, does have the freedom to examine him in other areas of learning that it might deem necessary, especially for his calling (perhaps in philosophy, if he is called to teach apologetics, e.g., in a seminary).
The candidate for ordination is also examined in the secondary (specifically, the Westminster Confession of Faith) and tertiary standards of the church (the BCO, commonly called the examination in the “black book”), which is what is meant by examination in the confession, government, discipline, and worship of the Church. These are also new and additional exams to those he received for licensure. All these examinations may be oral, written, or a combination, with the right of the presbytery to ask for written discourses wherever it deems appropriate or needful. It is often the case that if a man if being examined by the same presbytery that licensed him, particularly if the ordination exams occur soon (within a year, say) after the licensure exams, that the presbytery either does not reexamine him much or at all in materials in which he has been shortly before examined in by that same presbytery.
These examinations may be conducted by the presbytery on the floor of the presbytery, though this is not customarily done. Rather, the examinations as a whole tend to be given by the presbytery to a committee (usually a standing Committee on Candidates and Credentials), which may conduct them as it sees fit (or in keeping with the instructions of the presbytery). The committee reports to the presbytery the candidate’s progress (e.g., the committee reports that the candidate has successfully sustained his examinations in Greek and Hebrew). In all cases, however, an examination in theology must be conducted on the floor of presbytery. At least that examination, in other words, must be done before the whole presbytery, usually conducted by member(s) of the Committee on Candidates and Credentials before being opened to questions on the floor from the presbytery as a whole.
For this examination in theology successfully to be sustained, the candidate must receive the approbation of at least three-quarters plus one of the presbyters present at the meeting. This is a way of putting positively what is put negatively by the FG at this point: If one fourth (25%) of the presbyters witnessing the floor examination in theology are not satisfied with the examination, ascertained by a vote expressing such, the ordination process goes no further at this point. Rather, the candidate, who has received a negative vote by at least a quarter of the presbytery, is required to return to the presbytery, if he still wishes to pursue ordination, for further examination at another date. To ensure proper vote counts, here many presbyteries often resort to roll call votes (or at least rising counts) instead of mere voice votes (secret ballots are not generally seen as appropriate in such a case, since votes on such should be open). This shows the extraordinary amount of support by the presbytery that a candidate must enjoy successfully to sustain examination in the ordination process.
7. When a licentiate has been called to be the pastor of a congregation and has expressed his desire to accept the call, and the presbytery has satisfied itself that he has the requisite qualifications for the office and service as specified in Sections 1, 5, and 6, above, the presbytery shall appoint a time to meet to ordain and install him. The service shall be, if convenient, in the church of which he is to be the minister. It is also recommended that a day of prayer and fasting be observed in the congregation previous to the day of ordination.
Comment: The most ordinary situation in view here is a licentiate being called to pastor a particular local congregation. When a licentiate has thus been called, and indicated that he wishes to accept said call, and when the presbytery has satisfied itself that the candidate in view has the necessary qualifications for office and service as noted already in this chapter of the FG (in Sections 1, 5, and 6, above, most pointedly), the presbytery shall determine and appoint a time to meet so that it might ordain and install him as a pastor of the congregation that has issued a call to him.
The service of ordination and installation for said candidate should ordinarily, if convenient, take place in the church to which he is called to be minister. The reason that such might not occur is, say, the church rents a facility on Sundays and wishes to have the ordination on Friday or Saturday and cannot secure the facility for that time. Then the ordination and installation may occur in a neighboring church or the like, with as many of the calling congregation present as possible. The last sentence of the section is sometimes neglected but should not be. At some day before the ordination and installation of the candidate, it is appropriate that a day of prayer and fasting be held in the local congregation in anticipation of such. The focus of such would obviously be to seek the Lord for blessing upon the ministry of the one to be ordained, both for the minister and the congregation, that his ministrations would be most suitable for the congregation and that they would joyfully receive such, for the good of all and the glory of Christ.
8. At the time for ordination and installation the moderator of the presbytery, or another appointed in his place, shall preside over the meeting of the presbytery, with the congregation present. A minister previously appointed shall preach a sermon appropriate to the occasion. Afterwards the moderator shall briefly inform the congregation of the proceedings of the presbytery preparatory to this occasion; he shall also instruct the congregation, in the following or similar language, concerning the warrant and nature of the office of minister of the Word of God and the duties of a pastor toward a congregation:
The Word of God clearly teaches that the office of minister was instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul declares that our Lord “gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ.”
The duties of the minister of Christ may briefly be set forth under the following heads: the faithful exposition of the Word of God and its application to the needs of the hearers, in order that the unconverted may be reconciled to God and that the saints may be built up in their most holy faith; the offering of prayer to the Lord on behalf of the congregation; the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper; and the exercise, in conjunction with the ruling elders, of the government and discipline of the church.
The office of the minister is first in the church for dignity and usefulness, for, by our God's sovereign design, the ministry of the Word is the primary instrument in our Lord's gathering and perfecting of his church. The person who fills this office is designated in Scripture by different names expressive of his various duties. As he has the oversight of the flock of Christ, he is termed bishop. As he feeds them with spiritual food, he is termed pastor and teacher. As he serves Christ in his church, he is termed minister. As it is his duty to be grave and prudent, and an example to the flock, and to govern well in the house of God, he is termed presbyter or elder. As he is sent to declare the will of God to sinners, and to beseech them to be reconciled to God through Christ, he is termed ambassador. As he is commanded to warn the house of Israel against the enemies of God and his Word, he is termed watchman. And, as he dispenses the manifold grace of God and the ordinances instituted by Christ, he is termed steward of the mysteries of God.
He shall instruct them concerning the duties of a congregation toward a pastor, and shall endeavor to give the people a proper sense of the solemnity of both ordination to the office and installation in the field of service.
Then, addressing the candidate, he shall propose to him the following questions:
(1) Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
(2) Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?
(3) Do you approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?
(4) Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
(5) Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son?
(6) Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?
(7) Do you promise to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all private and personal duties which become you as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, as well as in all the duties of your office, endeavoring to adorn the profession of the gospel by your life, and walking with exemplary piety before the flock over which God shall make you overseer?
(8) Are you now willing to take the charge of this congregation, in agreement with your declaration when you accepted their call? And do you promise to discharge the duties of a pastor to them as God shall give you strength?
Comment: All that has proceeded in the ordination process (the call itself, the desire to accept it on the part of the candidate, the evaluation of the testimonials, and the areas of further examination by an approving presbytery) has been with a view to that to which we now come: the actual service of ordination and installation. The moderator of the presbytery, or someone that he appoints to serve on his behalf, convenes the meeting of the presbytery at the time, date, and place agreed upon beforehand. Normally, this meeting is convened initially, and usually privately, with only presbyters (ministers of the presbytery and duly commissioned ruling elders to that meeting of presbytery) and those who may be seated as corresponding members (non-commissioned ruling elders of the regional church, guest ministers from other presbyteries or other denominations, etc.) present.
This meeting, occurring something like fifteen minutes before the presbytery reconvenes in the meeting place with the congregation present, goes over the basic format of the public meeting that is to follow. This meeting recesses to come back to order in the public meeting, highlighting that a service of ordination and installation is a presbytery meeting that occurs with the calling congregation present for most of the meeting. This service proceeds somewhat in the fashion of a customary worship service: the moderator of the meeting leads the presbytery and congregation in Scripture, prayer, song, etc. Someone previously appointed, usually requested by the ordinand (often a mentor or the like), preaches a sermon.
After this, the moderator then details the proceedings that have transpired leading to this point of a man receiving a call and being ordained and installed in the pastorate in that place. The moderator then sets forth the warrant and duties of a minister of the Word of God, particularly those pertaining to the pastoral office. The FG furnishes specific words for this task. These or like words should be used in informing the congregation of such, which include not only setting forth the duties of a pastor to a congregation but also those of the congregation to the pastor. Further comments on these important words about the nature and warrant of the office of minster will appear in an appendix of this commentary.
Now the time has come for the administration of the ministerial vows. We live in a day in which vows often mean little (marriage, baptismal, church membership, and the like). The minister, as in everything spiritual and ecclesial, should take leadership and show both at the administration of the vows, and subsequently, that he takes the vows with utmost seriousness and always endeavors, though not without fault, to maintain the sacred vows that he took at his ordination. They should in no small measure come to shape his walk with Christ and the way he conducts himself throughout the whole course of his office.
A few noteworthy things about the vows: the first three are carefully cast to suit the different subjects to which the ministerial candidate pledges loyalty. The first is to the Bible, the second is to the doctrinal standards, and the third is to the church order. Different verbs are operative in each case: one says that he “believes” the Bible, “receives and adopts” the doctrinal standards, and “approves” the church order. These different verbs fit, since the Bible is simply believed as given, without qualifications or scruples; the doctrinal standards are sincerely (from the heart) received and made one’s own confession of faith (minor scruples being allowed that do not impact the system of doctrine, at the presbytery’s discretion); and the church order is “approved,” meaning one is willing to work within its present structure, even if one conceives helpful improvements. The vow of subjection to the brethren in the Lord is a sobering one, meaning that the candidate willingly subjects himself to the presbytery and its due disciplinary process, both informal and formal.
The fifth question has motive as its concern: can the candidate honestly affirm that he seeks the ministry because he loves God and wants to promote the glory of Christ’s gospel? This stands over against seeking it for perceived self-glory or the promotion of one’s own agenda. Question six asks whether one is willing to maintain the truth at all costs, not at variance with the purity, peace, and unity of the church but to promote such. Such zealousness and faithfulness as the question enjoins is always necessary, even more so in perilous times in which persecution for the faith especially looms. The seventh vow has in view what I said above: the minister, both personally and in the exercise of his office, in private and public, must be an exemplar. The importance of this question cannot be overestimated. The final oath is one involving the particular call and congregation and the approbation of the candidate that he continues willing to serve those who have called him to such service.
9. The candidate having answered these questions in the affirmative, the moderator shall propose to the people the following questions, to which they shall answer in the affirmative by holding up their right hands:
(1) Do you, the people of this congregation, continue to profess your readiness to receive ____________, whom you have called to be your minister?
(2) Do you promise to receive the word of truth from his mouth with meekness and love, and to submit to him in the due exercise of discipline?
(3) Do you promise to encourage him in his arduous labor and to assist his endeavors for your instruction and spiritual edification?
(4) And do you promise to continue to him, while he is your pastor, that worldly maintenance which you have promised, and whatever else you may see needful for the honor of religion and his comfort among you?
Comment: Following the eight questions that the ministerial candidate must answer are four questions that the congregation must answer, pledging that it continues to receive this newly ordained man as their pastor, promising to receive the word from him meekly and lovingly, and promising to submit to him in the due (proper) exercise of church discipline. Further, the congregation pledges to encourage him in labors and to assist him duly, including providing worldly maintenance (a proper salary, housing, pension, insurance, and all other fitting matters) and all that will honor the faith and provide for the proper comfort of the minister as he labors among them. By this the congregation pledges to love and respect its new pastor and to provide for him all that he needs as he labors among them so that he might be, as his call noted, “free of worldly care.” This is a challenge for congregations that cannot afford to pay their pastors without him needing to be bi-vocational.
10. If these questions have been satisfactorily answered, the candidate shall then kneel, and by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, according to the apostolic example, he shall be solemnly ordained to the holy office of the gospel ministry. Prayer being ended, he shall rise and the moderator shall declare him to be ordained a minister of the Word of God and the pastor of that congregation. The presbytery shall then extend to him the right hand of fellowship. The moderator, or others appointed for the purpose, shall give solemn charges in the name of God to the newly ordained minister and to the people, to persevere in the discharge of their mutual duties, and shall, by prayer, commend them both to the grace of God and his holy keeping. At the conclusion of the service the pastor shall dismiss the congregation with a benediction.
Comment: Upon the affirmative answers to the questions to the ordinand and to the congregation, the candidate kneels, generally in the front of the congregation, and the presbytery, by the laying on of hands (in keeping with the example of the apostles) and prayer, solemnly ordains the candidate to the holy office of the gospel ministry. Who precisely lays on hands (whether only ministers or ruling elders as well) has been previously commented upon and is ably argued by Clowney as limited to ministers, though the practice has widely come to be that both ruling elders and ministers lay hands on the ordinand (FG 25.6.d).
After this the newly ordained man rises and the moderator declares that he has been duly ordained and installed and is now the pastor of that congregation. Members of the presbytery (those who laid hands on him) shall extend to him the right hand of fellowship, often using the historical practice of shaking his hand and saying, “I give you the right hand of fellowship to take part in this [ministerial] office with us.”
The moderator, or, more commonly, those requested by the newly ordained pastor then brings charges, one to the pastor and the other to the people, encouraging each to persevere in their duties, followed by prayer for God’s blessing upon it all. It is fitting that the new pastor be charged faithfully to execute all the duties pertaining to his office and that the people be charged to receive said ministrations better to fit them in all their service to our God. All is committed to God in prayer, without whose empowerment and enabling nothing of good will emerge. The whole service is concluded with a benediction, a biblical blessing, pronounced by the newly ordained and installed pastor.
 The precise nature of confessional subscription, and what scruples may be expressed, is taken up in David W. Hall, ed., The Practice of Confessional Subscription (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1995); see especially the essay in this volume by John R. Muether, “Confidence in our Brethren: Creedal Subscription in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church,” 301–310. Gregory E. Reynolds, “The Nature, Limits, and Place of Exceptions and Scruples in Subscription to Our Doctrinal Standards,” Ordained Servant 23 (2014): 22–33.
 Unpublished MS by E. P. Clowney, “The Laying on of Hands by the Ruling Elders at the Ordination of a Minister,” taken from the Minutes of the Presbytery of New Jersey (OPC), compiled by Stated Clerk Jon Stevenson, March 15, 2015. This paper, in addressing the import of the laying on of hands from a biblical-theological perspective, shows it to be a ministerial act, akin to the benediction, and therefore pertains to the ministerial office. It is my hope to publish this as an appendix when this work is published in book form.
Alan D. Strange is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and serves as professor of church history and theological librarian at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana, and is associate pastor of New Covenant Community Church (OPC) in Joliet, Illinois. Ordained Servant Online, December 2021. A list of available installments in this series appears here.
Contact the Editor: Gregory Edward Reynolds
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Ordained Servant: December 2021
Also in this issue
by John W. Mallin III
by Danny E. Olinger
by Meredith G. Kline
by Robert Letham by Bryan D. Estelle by T. David Gordon by John Donne (1572–1631)
by Robert Letham
by Bryan D. Estelle
by T. David Gordon
by John Donne (1572–1631)
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